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As some of you may know, about 2 1/2 years ago, my husband lost his job. Honestly, it was probably one of the best things that could have happened to us. Up until then, we just spent money willy nilly. With our income severely cut down to a third of what it was, we had to learn how to cut costs and save everywhere we could. Now that he’s working again, I’m still on the look out for ways to save money. Our income has more value now and I want to get my money’s worth any way I can.

One great way I’ve been finding ways to save money is Pinterest. If you’re not on there, go. Go now!! I’ll wait. But be warned, it’s pretty awesome and very addictive. And there are really great ways to save yourself some money. Some of the DIY projects I’ve been finding on there are pretty amazing. The following money saving tips have all come from Pinterest and I’ll link to the original websites where applicable.

1. Laundry

One thing I have always been interested in doing was making my own laundry detergent. Most of the recipes I’ve found either make 3 gallons or make powdered detergent. I really don’t like powdered detergent and I really don’t have theroom to store 3 gallons of laundry soap. Then while perusing Pinterest when I was probably supposed to be working, I came across a pin that was a concentrated soap that made a gallon and you only used 1 tablespoon per load. I won’t print the recipe because you can find it here. Dana over at The White Silk Purse, made an entire year’s worth of laundry soap (14 loads of clothes/week)  for just under $14. That’s about the cost of one large bottle of Tide.

This is what the laundry detergent looks like the next day.

And it works fantastic! I really love it. I tried adding some essential oil to it but I didn’t add enough because it doesn’t smell. But I can live with it. I had to buy washing soda and Borax but I already had 2 small bars of Ivory soap so I made a 3/4 recipe. The Ivory worked fine and most other recipes out there call for Ivory, Fels Naptha or Zote so I used what I had. Next time I’ll buy Fels Naptha. I really like that I can rub the paste directly onto clothes for stains and don’t have to buy or use anything else.  I do notice it doesn’t suds up in the washer like regular soap and I even put a little in a glass and tried to get it to sud but even that didn’t work. I’m guessing the Borax or soda keeps it from making suds. The true test was on some musty, mildewy smelling towels that were outside. They smelled just fine and clean once they came out so something somewhere worked and I don’t stress about the lack of suds anymore. I will also add that I mixed the soap in three batches in my blender initially because in the mixer, it was splashing everywhere. Once it was blended, I dumped the whole lot back into the mixer to mix it up better.

After I whipped up the laundry detergent.

The second thing I made that day was liquid softener. This recipe is by Jillee over at One Good Thing and can be found here. I normally use dryer sheets and that was the one thing I liked about this recipe. It can be used in the final rinse in the washer or you can use it like I do. I took one of Edward’s old holey socks and cut it open so it lays flat. I measure out a tablespoon and pour it on the sock, let it soak in and throw it into the dryer like a dryer sheet. I did have to write “fabric softener” in bright red Sharpie so it wouldn’t get thrown out. You can easily use an old wash cloth but I advise marking it someway otherwise it will get folded and put up or thrown out.

I really like this softener as well. It makes the clothes super soft. I added essential oils to this too and still didn’t get any scent. I’m not sure what I’ll have to do to get some fragrance in the clothes again but it’s not a total deal breaker at this point. The point is they both work so we’ll just leave it at that. Maybe next time I’ll just use more essential oils or something.

The two containers on the left are hand soap, the middle is the laundry soap and the far right is the softener.

I also made hand soap on the same day but I haven’t had a chance to use it yet. I had just bought a gallon refill of hand soap so when I run out, I’ll use this one. I just made it because I was making everything else and already had everything out. I did use some honey almond scented oil I had bought to make some previous soaps and it smells wonderful. It came out okay, just haven’t used it yet. I got that recipe from The Farmer’s Nest here and although I didn’t use the Meyer’s soap like she did, I think next time I might. The great thing about making your own products is that it ends up being so cheap, sometimes you can splurge on the ingredients. Or not. I actually made my handsoap out of all those travel soap bars we get from hotels that we never use. I weighed out 8 oz and grated them up. Worked like a charm.

2. Mosquitoes

I live in Texas. We have big mosquitoes. I mean mosquitoes that are the size of my dog. And not the little one. When they bite, it feels like someone is sticking you with a hypodermic needle. Which was exactly what happened to me one day when I walked out the door to go run. After looking around for about 15 minutes for bug spray, even in the camping box, I came up empty handed. Thankfully, I remembered pinning a recipe for a bug repellent lotion. I also remember that when I looked at the recipe, Marcie over at The Family that Camps Together also included a recipe (found here) for a spray version which caught my attention since I had all the ingredients. A spray bottle and about five minutes later and I was back in business. I do have to warn that although this bug spray works very well (I was out running for an hour, sweating and didn’t even see a mosquito), it is very strong. I personally like the way apple cider vinegar smells and that with the combination of oils I used (lavender, geranium, cedarwood, peppermint and eucalyptus), the other people in my house found it a little too potent. It was said all the dogs went into sneezing fits after I sprayed it on me and left. Whatever. It worked and it was FREE since I already had everything for it. They can all suck it.

3. Dirty Stoves

The grossness of it all

I’m really almost embarrassed to write this. I mean to do this review, I have to admit to how I often let things go until they get so dirty I just can’t take it anymore. In this case it was the stove. It was gross. So gross it was starting to smell. When my husband was in food sales, he used to get this awesome concentrated degreaser they use in restaurants. I would fill the sink up and pour some of that in and let all the drip pans and everything soak overnight. When he got laid off, I lost my degreaser supply. So I haven’t cleaned my stove in about 6-8 months. I know, gross. And I know what you’re thinking. Why don’t we just clean the stove every night when we clean the kitchen? Well let’s just say, I cook and I’m not the one cleaning every night. Without pointing anyone out, we’ll just leave it there.

Yeah, I know.

Well again, thanks to Pinterest, I found a solution to this as well. The only problem is, I can’t find where I pinned it and can’t link back to the original poster. But it’s a pretty easy recipe. I took the drip pans and the grate thingys and put each one in a ziploc bag. I poured in a big splash of ammonia (about 1/4-1/2 cup) and then sealed them up and let them sit over night. The next day, I used a scrubber and pretty much all of gunk came off with very minimal scrubbing. I did have one drip pan that was pretty bad and some of the charred stuff didn’t come off, but it looks tons better so I’m okay with it.

The taped up part

Two things I will highly recommend if you do this, ventilation and gloves. I think next time, I may do the after cleaning outside. Also, for the actual stove part, I poured a big splash of ammonia on the stove and covered it with plastic wrap. I used a little duct tape to hold it down and seal off the fumes til the morning. This got everything off. I mean, it looked brand new. I couldn’t even believe it. Even soaking in the degreaser like I did before, I still had to use a lot of muscle to get everything off. This method took very little effort. Of course, I had to learn about the ventilation part the hard way and after almost passing out from asphyxiation several times, I finally opened a window.  So please take my advice and do your scrubbing in a well ventilated area.

Much better.

Wow! This is way longer than I wanted. Guess I’m making up for lost time. I do have several other things I’ve been making and using also but we’ll have to talk about those another day. Stay tuned.